This strikes me as a classic “bait and switch” from the Kenyan political establishment to the international community.
Kenya’s Justice Minister says at this late date that because Kenya will be reforming its judicial and police systems under the newly passed Constitution, the ICC is no longer needed and should “keep off” as Kenya can now prosecute the post-election violence itself. I cannot imagine who would be expected to take this argument seriously. Certainly no one that has been paying any attention to Kenya for the past few years.
Presumably the real argument is that “because we have allowed Kenyans to pass this wonderful new Constitution–that you, international powers wanted more than we did–you owe us a pass on the post-election violence–just like you gave us a pass on the election fraud because we agreed to a “government of national unity”.
As with the election fraud, there is a real question here for the United States: how much do we want to know and when do we want to know it? The ICC is at best only going to try a tiny handful of suspects–most killers and their sponsors will not be directly touched. The ICC’s ability to gain convictions is not a foregone conclusion. Trials, however, would be public and would let the Kenyan public–and the international public–hear details of what happened. The United States has claimed to have quite a bit of information about the post-election violence. Presumably this is the case with the British and the other European players. To date, we have supported the ICC process lukewarmly as a substitute for the local tribunals that we preferred but the Kenyan leadership refused to approve. Where are we on this now?
From the Saturday Nation, “Mutula to Ocampo: Quit Kenya Probe”:
A Cabinet Minister has launched a controversial campaign to stop the International Criminal Court from investigating and prosecuting post-election violence suspects.
Lawyer Mutula Kilonzo, who holds the Justice portfolio, claims that trial sought by the ICC chief prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo after he completes investigations in the next few weeks will be unnecessary when Kenya establishes a new judiciary, appoints an inspector-general of police, and installs a new director of public prosecution under the new Constitution.
The minister, whose docket is crucial to obtaining justice for the victims of the violence that broke out after the 2007 General Election, argued: “When these (appointments) are in place, we can say that Kenyan judges meet the best international standards. After that, I can even tell them not to admit the ICC case. Why on earth should a Kenyan go to The Hague?”